BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham levy that would help provide for low-income housing appeared to be headed for easy approval, according to early vote totals Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Proposition 1 was passing 55 percent to 44 percent.
It needs a simple majority to pass.
"It's a great night. This is a demonstration that the city cares about all of its citizens," said Greg Winter, director of Whatcom Homeless Service Center and co-chairman of the campaign to approve Proposition 1.
The measure would increase Bellingham property taxes to raise nearly $21 million over seven years to help the needy get into affordable housing.
The levy would add a new tax of 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, adding $90 a year to the tax bill on a $250,000 home.
"We recognize that it's early, but we're extremely optimistic," Winter said Tuesday night.
Levy dollars going into what's known as the Bellingham Home Fund would build, preserve or otherwise be used for 1,300 homes and would help at least 8,500 families for years to come, backers have said.
About 76 percent of the money raised, or about $15.9 million, would be used to build and preserve homes while 8.9 percent, or a little over $1.8 million, would go for rental assistance and support services, according to a draft plan that the City Council would approve if voters OK the measure.
The plan was modeled on one implemented in Seattle since the 1980s.
Another 8.9 percent, or $1.8 million, would be spent on low-income homebuyer assistance as well as acquisitions and opportunity loans. The remaining 6.1 percent, or nearly $1.3 million, would pay for administrative costs.
The levy grew from a recommendation of the Countywide Housing Affordability Taskforce in 2008.
An updated ballot count will be released Wednesday afternoon by the Whatcom County Auditor's Office.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.